We respect Ghana’s COVID-19 testing approach but we won’t do that because of its limitations – Nigeria

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COVID-19 has been a major topic in 2020 with countries across the globe battling the pandemic.

The story has been no different in Africa with 52 of the 54 countries on the continent recording cases of coronavirus as of 6:00GMT on Thursday, April 23, 2020.

Ghana and South Africa are among the leading countries to have done a high number of tests with respectively high COVID-19 confirmed cases.

In Ghana, the mode of testing alongside the reported figures for confirmed cases have been a subject of debate with many questioning the method and transparency.

Head of Virology at the Noguchi Medical Research Institute, Professor William Ampofo during a press briefing on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, explained Ghana’s process and how efficient the testing teams have been.

“We simply pool the samples, meaning that, if you have 1,000 samples, you put them in groups of 10 and you test 100 pools at a time,” Professor William Ampofo explained.

“So in a short time, instead of testing 1,000 samples, you test 10,000 samples. This method we are using now was derived in 1945 and this very efficient way we have proceeded.”

Other African countries have seen what Ghana is doing with regards to the number of tests done during a 3-week lockdown of the two biggest cities in the country, Accra and Kumasi.

However, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control says that the testing method is not a road Nigeria wants to take despite respecting Ghana’s approach.

Asked about Nigeria’s COVID-19 tests so far compared to South Africa and Ghana and the measures being put in place to ensure their large population is covered, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control at the WHO Media Briefing:

“We have been slow to start but those that understand molecular diagnosis know that it’s not a simple thing to do.

“…it’s complex so I would rather go a little bit slower and get it right than speed into a situation that we will end up regretting.

“Some managed acceleration is exactly what we are doing with a deliberate strategy on how to scale.

“Ghana has a different approach to testing. I know exactly what they are doing. I respect what they are doing. But we don’t want to go down that path because it has its limitations.

“I want to assure everyone that we have learnt a lot of lessons from this. One of the biggest ones is that you have to build up your laboratory capacity.”

Ghana as at 12:00 GMT on Thursday, April 23, 2020, had 1154 confirmed coronavirus disease COVID-19 cases with around 70, 000 tests. 120 people have recovered from the disease in Ghana. Nigeria has 873 confirmed cases with under 10,000 tests as at Thursday, April 23, 2020.

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